When all is said and done, life can sometimes be a complete and utter rip-off, according to Grumpy Group Organiser.

Paying the bill

New Yorkers have even been told to tip when collecting take-aways or in shops.

America reaches a tipping point

I love America, but haven’t been to the United States for a while. I hope to put that right in the near future. I love its brashness, the fact it often takes itself too seriously, the way Americans find my accent amusing, and its amazing mix of places to visit. But one of the things I hate about the USA is its approach to tipping. Receive bad service? You’re still expected to tip. How much should you tip? Too much. And make sure you add a tip on top of the service charge. Let’s tip twice, why not?

There were times when it was fun. You would add a tip on to a round of drinks. The bar tenders are often friendly people and good with a joke - and if you drink enough, they might even buy you one back. They played an important part in the experience and that needed to be recognised. Even by me. 

But the tipping culture has been getting farcical and is now way out of hand. Some idiot (it’s probably idiots) at New York magazine has added fuel to an ever-growing fire by producing a guide to modern society and how we should live our lives. It features advice on friends and lovers, parenting and work, but it’s the section on tipping that seems to have ignited fierce debate on both sides of the Atlantic.

I nearly fell off my chair when I read that New Yorkers should be tipping 20-25% in restaurants. What? The waiting staff should get a quarter of the bill because they’re not paid enough by the tyrants who run the place?

But it gets worse. Apparently, we should also be giving 10% if just picking up a take-away from a restaurant. Where’s the logic in that? Well New York magazine said “a take-out order interrupts the ow of other work required of servers and hosts who are dependent on tips.”

So make sure you order your chicken chow mein from a standalone take-away, because surely that’s safe? But a 20% tip is now expected in grocery stores and coffee shops. It’s just another pandemic and it’s spreading fast. Has anyone experienced this? Can you imagine dropping a 20% tip when checking out at Tesco? The whole thing is an absurdity. Credit card machines that present you with a tipping option when buying goods I accept if in a restaurant, or when taking a taxi. But I draw the line at shops.

Cities like New York and others that adopt an aggressive stance on tipping need to understand that tourists will feel confused and uncomfortable. And what could that mean? No tourists. So here’s a tip from me (it’s free), pay people a proper wage and reset a culture that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

The UK’s most expensive railway

Costing £3.70 per mile, the new rail link between Luton Airport Parkway station and Luton Airport has raised eyebrows for becoming the UK’s most expensive passenger line. 

Replacing the bus service, it’s only 1.3 miles long and follows a cost of £300 million, which is 33% over budget. Eye watering isn’t it? Luckily being a pensioner I will be able to ride it for free, although I tend to drive and park if Mrs Grumpy and I fly from Luton or get the coach to drop us off if travelling in a group.

Train moving fast and blurred

Is it “daylight robbery” to travel on the new airport rail link?

Heathrow Express has now lost its tag as the most expensive railway in the country. It will set you back £25 for a single ticket, and on a route that’s 16.5 miles long, that equates to £1.50 a mile. It’s daylight robbery and all wrong. You can travel much cheaper and enjoy better comfort and reliability in so many countries across Europe. But Brits being ripped off when it comes to rail is nothing new, is it?  When all is said and done, life can sometimes be a complete and utter rip-off.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily the views of the publisher.